The Role of the Project Manager Is to Command and Control

1 January 2017

Being an effective project manager is among the most challenging jobs in the industry for two reasons. First it requires management skills and abilities different from those required in a traditional functional management position. Second, there are very few training opportunities available to those moving into the project management. Thornberry, Neal E. October 1987]. This article addresses the roles and responsibility of a project manager which in today’s modern techniques are not only restricted to command and control but spread out far beyond these factors.

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Project manager lead the overall effort of project management. Due to their multidiscipline and highly interdependent nature, projects, more then any other form of organizational and managerial work, demand a leader to motivate the team members. All activity is initiated and performed by people, not by reporting tools or procedure. A good project manager must be task oriented i. e. command and control techniques but also people oriented.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) suggest that project managers stem from various backgrounds, possess relevant skills and competencies, and are required to govern a project throughout its life-cycle [(CIOB, 2002, p. )]. The implication is that a PM not only manages their team, but leads the team: leading by example, by gaining the trust and respect from their team through motivating, co-ordinating and maintaining morale. However, they must also utilise a range of other skills while leading the team to successfully deliver the project. [Griffith and Watson (2004, p. 31)] suggest that the person seen as the construction project manager executes many of the “classical” functions i. e. conducts, controls, and administers.

Various sources of literature discuss the roles executed by the construction industry’s project managers and the skills they require in order to be able to effectively manage their team towards successful delivery of a project. [Sommerville and Dalziel (1998)], when reviewing project manager’s role, clearly demonstrated the diversity of the role set and the then predominant roles. [Fryer (2004, p. 17)] states that managers can influence the way in which their subordinates behave either positively or negatively and argues that project managers engage in: planning, organising, directing, controlling and, developing staff. Griffith and Watson (2004, p. 31)] describe the vital functions of a project manager as: forecasting, planning, organising, controlling, motivating, co-ordinating and communicating.

They asked 50 construction managers to rank these seven functions in order of importance; the results established then are shown in Table I. Motivating and forecasting were perceived to be the least important functions and yet it is clear that in contemporary practice, a project manager must have the ability to motivate his team in order to successfully complete the project, and also to clearly forecast how progress is against a pre-determined plan.

Under pressure managers are more likely to use a command and control style of leadership during a recession, but a leadership expert claims that whatever the economic climate, it is the wrong way to go about improving corporate performance. Scott Watson, managing director of UK and Bahrain based Summit Consulting and Training, which has trained and supported more than 10,000 executives and managers in the UK and Arabian Gulf, says autocratic management styles stifle creativity, undermine staff morale, destroy trust and ruin the potential for any worthwhile collaboration to maximise organisational effectiveness.

People work harder when they feel they are making a positive difference, an intrinsic motivation. The command and control management style works through extrinsic motivators such as threats, authority, and even monetary incentives, all of which prevent or even replace employees’ natural intrinsic motivation.

A management style that gives people ownership of their methods, tools, and results, and in which people can feel good about collaborating with and helping those around them (co-workers, customers, and suppliers) provides intrinsic motivation, and people work hard because they like the way it makes them feel, and feel important and appreciated — the “psychological pay” principle. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, but command and control takes that feeling away from them. People work harder for someone they respect, and preferably like.

A manager who understands that the workers in the trenches usually see the organization’s challenges and problems better than he or she can, can gain their input and support their efforts more effectively than a “commander” who assumes he or she knows, or is expected to know, more than their subordinates. This attitude only alienates subordinates and loses their loyalty, respect, and input. It may even move them to undermine the organization’s performance in subtle ways in an effort, possibly never acknowledged, and probably in a form that can’t be identified, that is based in nothing so much as a desire for revenge.

People work harder when they’re not doing it under threat. Some command and control-styled managers use subtle threats to do their job, and may unwittingly put employees in a situation where they can’t see a way to succeed. The results can be disastrous as far as morale and work performance, not only for the employee placed in that position, but for their co-workers who will see what is going on and fear being put in such a position themselves[On effective management 2008]

The above discussion above will lead you to a better understanding of how command and control can be used in an effective manner. Over command and control can lead to employee un-satisfaction and result in lack of interest and employee will feel lack of respect, thus giving a decreased desire to contribute Therefore, a project manager should be able to balance his authoritative skills and employee relationship in an effective and efficient manner.

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